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Seham Osman Among Nubian HRDs on Trial

Status: 
On Trial
About the situation

On 7 April 2019, the Aswan Misdemeanour State Security Emergency Court will pronounce the final judgement in the case known as the “Dofof trial”, brought against Seham Osman, Mohamed Azmy, Maysara Abdoun and 29 other Nubian human rights defenders. The case refers to a peaceful protest held on 3 September 2017, during which Nubians demanded the right of return to their ancestral lands, a principle enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution.

About Seham Osman

seham_osman.jpgSeham Osman is a Nubian activist and founding member of Genoubia Hora, the first organised feminist group in Aswan, located in southern Egypt. She founded the organisation in 2013 in response to what women human rights defenders refer to as “widespread acceptance” of both police violence and violence against women. Seham Osman was also a leading member of and one of the most active women in the Nubian Caravan, a protest movement campaigning for the right of the indigenous Nubian people to return to their land.

5 April 2019
Seham Osman Among Nubian HRDs on Trial

On 7 April 2019, the Aswan Misdemeanour State Security Emergency Court will pronounce the final judgement in the case known as the “Dofof trial”, brought against Seham Osman, Mohamed Azmy, Maysara Abdoun and 29 other Nubian human rights defenders. The case refers to a peaceful protest held on 3 September 2017, during which Nubians demanded the right of return to their ancestral lands, a principle enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution.

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Seham Osman is a Nubian activist and founding member of Genoubia Hora, the first organised feminist group in Aswan, located in southern Egypt. She founded the organisation in 2013 in response to what women human rights defenders refer to as “widespread acceptance” of both police violence and violence against women. Seham Osman was also a leading member of and one of the most active women in the Nubian Caravan, a protest movement campaigning for the right of the indigenous Nubian people to return to their land.

Mohamed Azmy is a lawyer and human rights defender, and is currently President of the General Nubian Union, based in Aswan. He advocates for the land rights and a fair resettlement of Nubian people to their historical homeland in the south of Egypt. The General Nubian Union is a recently founded movement actively promoting the right of return of the Nubian community to their ancestral land.

Maysara Abdoun is a Nubian human rights defender actively involved in the defence of minority and Nubian rights in the Aswan Governorate. He is the training coordinator at the Border Center for Support & Consulting (BSC), an organisation led by a group of young people with experience in community development and human rights.

On 3 September 2017, Nubian protesters organised a march to condemn the Presidential Decree 444/2014, which expropriated indigenous Nubian lands and granted property rights to the military, in clear contradiction with the Constitution. Security forces were deployed to suppress the peaceful protest and several people were arrested. On 3 October 2017, state security officials detained seven family members and supporters of the arrested protesters. On 7 November 2017, people took back to the streets after Nubian human rights defender Gamal Sorour had died in custody following a hunger strike, which the Nubian public saw as a direct result of medical negligence. More people were arrested by the authorities as a result. All 32 defendants in the case were then transferred to the State Security Emergency Court.

On 13 March 2018, a judge of the Aswan Misdemeanour State Security Emergency Court withdrew from presiding over the trial of Nubian human rights defenders. A different judge was authorised to examine the case on 15 April 2018. As the head of the judicial panel was absent from the court session held on 20 May 2018, the State Security Emergency Misdemeanour Court ordered a rehearing in the case by a third judicial panel, setting the

date of the first hearing for 1 July 2018. On 3 March 2019, pleadings were presented by the lawyers of the defendants. The court is due to pronounce the final judgement on 7 April 2019.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a recommendation regarding the case, urging Egyptian authorities to immediately suspend the trial of Nubian protesters, guarantee their right to compensation protected in international law, and comply with their constitutional obligations towards the Nubian people. As stated in the recommendation, ‘the violations of the fair trial rights of the Nubian activists have been of such gravity as to give their deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character’.

In the early 1900s, Egypt began constructing a set of dams near Aswan. The Nubian people were subjected to forced displacement as a result of various government-led projects such as the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s. By 1970, more than 50,000 Nubians had been forcibly relocated away from their homes by the Nile river. They lost their homes, farms, and livelihoods. In November 2016, Seham Osman and other Nubian rights defenders in Aswan organised the Nubian Caravan, driving dozens of cars towards their indigenous Nubian lands. As much of their territory has been placed under military control, the Nubian Caravan was caught between a series of check-points and forced to turn back after more than three days in the desert.

Front Line Defenders expresses concern about the ongoing judicial harassment of Nubian human rights defenders and believes that it is solely motivated by their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Egypt.